[Reviewed by: Iaha Crax]
Ashtoreth’s Gate marks a second offering from these ‘sonic excavators’, Lee Norris and Craig Murphy. They are both hard workers in the ambient genre: Norris runs the label …txt (http://www.txtrecordings.co.uk/), that released the first Ashtoreth’s Gate album, “Shadow of the Bowman” and is active in several projects (Metamatics, Autumn of Communion, Nacht Plank, The Angling Looser) , while Murphy is active under the project Solipsism.
The first glimpse after entering the Ashtoreth’s gate is the “Somatic Sky” above this new realm, full of mysteries and strange encounters. The body is slowly deposed of its flesh that binds it to the earth, reshaped as only a specter hovering above plasmatic, shape-altering domains. Devices are being manipulated with warmth and subtleness, rousing into the mind of the listener many a soothing image, inviting to compliance and acceptance of this until now untrodden space. In the Old Testament, Ashtoreth is a foreign goddess more known to us as Astarte, Ishtar or the loosely related Aphrodite. Fertility and war are associated with her symbols, but her two disciples here seem to be more inspired by the aspect of beauty and love she is characterized with. The electronic sequences are long, highly multifaceted vaporous architectures made of drones and eerie frequencies.
“Opposite Ocean” gathers deep organic textures for a reflective picture of fluid spaces. The drones remind me of Mathias Grassow, the other grand composer from gterma. A quiet, meditational musical text, setting its narration on a translucent background that allows the listener to immerse into the comforting frequencies and let himself be part of this storytelling.
The third and final track extracts us from this temporal departure from the mundane. “When We Return” is pervaded by a sense of nostalgia and therefore seems to sink in its own melody, which is reduced to a flat arpeggio droning, animated at intervals by looping ferments. As the music grows and we come closer, re-entering our common human state, the atmosphere becomes lighter and more breathable.
Ashtoreth’s Gate weaves a beautiful tapestry of sounds immersing the listener in a comforting trance. The two disciples of Astarte assemble soothing drones that afford a state of relaxation and physical ease. It’s the belle-époque electronic ambiance that you have always dreamed of.